The father of a severely brain-damaged woman is hoping a judge's ruling will allow him to move his daughter to Minnesota, where it would be easier to have her feeding tube disconnected.
The ruling was issued Wednesday by St. Louis County Probate Court Judge Louis Kohn but state officials will decide soon whether to appeal.The ruling lifted a temporary order that blocked the efforts of Pete Busalacchi to transfer his 20-year-old daughter Christine out of the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mount Vernon.
Busalacchi wants to take his daughter to Minnesota because that state's laws give families and doctors more leeway in deciding whether to cut off life support to the severely disabled.
Busalacchi's attorney, Robert Trame, said Thursday that Busalacchi wanted to be sure his court battle was over before doing anything.
The state Department of Health wants to prevent Busalacchi from moving his daughter until a full hearing can be held on whether she is in a persistent vegetative state.
Ms. Busalacchi suffered brain damage in a 1987 car accident in St. Louis and is being kept alive with a feeding tube inserted in her stomach.
Her case comes on the heels of the Nancy Cruzan case, a right-to-die legal battle that also involved the Missouri Rehabilitation Center and led to a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. The ruling gave states the right to require evidence of a patient's wishes before terminating treatment.
Ms. Cruzan's parents produced such evidence and removed her feeding tube Dec. 14, 1990. She died Dec. 26.
Busalacchi has been unable to offer proof of his daughter's wishes regarding extraordinary medical treatment.
Busalacchi's attorney, John Kilo, insisted that the current case was different than the Cruzan case.
"The issue here is whether the guardian can obtain medical care for his ward without state interference," the attorney said. "This is not a Cruzan case at all."